Helmers Holiday Smoked Turkey

This recipe and experience brought to you from Amazing Ribs.


Smoker Prep

  • Use fruitwood
  • Place tin foil pan into the water bowl
  • Place gravy items into tin-foil pan add water till about 2 inches.
  • Aim for a 325°F smoke
  • Soak wood for smoking in apple-cider vinegar overnight, use chunks, not chips

Turkey Prep

  • Spatchcock turkey
  • Add wet rub

Preparing Wet Rub

  1. Mix the herb blend with the oil.
  2. Gently push the rub under the skin
  3. Spread across the entire turkey
  4. Sprinkle kosher salt on the skin.

Prep for Turkey Gravy

  1. Save the juice from the turkey bag for gravy
  2. Pull the stuff out of the cavity. Check both front and rear openings. Typically you’ll find the neck and a bag of “giblets” in there.
  3. Put the neck in the pan.
  4. Place backbone from spatchcocking into a bowl
  5. Add the heart and the gizzard into the bowl
  6. Discard liver
  7. Remove wing tips at the first joint and toss them in the pool.
  8. Leave the skin on the onions, lop off the ends and cut the onion into quarters.
  9. Peel the carrots and cut them into 2" lengths
  10. Use the entire rib of celery, leaves, and all, and cut it into 2" lengths.
  11. Add vegetables to the pan
  12. Refrigerate contents until smoking time

Smoking Turkey

  1. Heat smoker to 325°F
  2. Place gravy pan beneath bird
  3. Insert the temperature probe into the breast so the tip is in the center of the thickest part of the breast, being careful not to touch the ribs.
  4. Add wood at beginning of smoke
  5. Place the bird on the cooking rack, ribs down
  • When bird reaches 90°F inject melted butter into breast meat. This process is called “Butterballing”
  1. Check on wingtips and drumstick tips and when brown, cover with aluminum foil
  2. When turkey temperature approaches 160°F,check other areas of bird to ensure that it is evenly cooked

Prep and serve Turkey and Gravy

  1. Move the bird to a location for trimming
  2. Remove the gravy pan from the cooker
  3. Strain gravy into a saucepan.
  4. Remove fat with strainer or basting bulb
  5. Render down for richer flavor
  6. Carve turkey and spoon gravy over for deliciousness

What would I do differently?

  • The heat was never high enough. I got it to about 250, 300 at the most
  • I screwed up by filling water into my Weber Smokey Mountain water pan, I should have just used the gravy container to control the heat.
  • Put two chimneys of lit coals in first thing, and another after an hour

What made this food special is that this was the first time I’ve smoked a turkey, and I’m really proud of how it turned out. It felt really good to cook for my whole family on Christmas, and this was the tastiest turkey I’ve ever made. Even with the lower than the expected temperature the bird was still incredible.

Adding to my enjoyment was the ability to a glass of my first kegged homebrew, but that’s another story.